The Barnegat-class ships were the first purpose-built small seaplane tenders (AVP). Prior to this class, AVPs were old destroyers and minesweepers were converted for this purpose. AVPs had shallower drafts than larger
seaplane tenders (AVs) which allowed them to operate in the shallow waters of small harbors and atolls and they were cheaper to build. They were designed to provide supplies, spare parts, fuel, repairs, and berthing for
assigned seaplane squadrons. The
Barnegat-class were also well-enough armed to be employed as escorts for larger seaplane tenders, having a substantial anti-air and anti-surface gunnery capability.
Post-war, 18 of these AVPs transferred to the United States Coast Guard and then referred to as Casco-class cutters (WAVP and later WHEC). The Barnegat-class ships were well-built, had ample accommodations and their
long range made them suitable for ocean station duty. They were mostly used as weather reporting and oceanographic ships but their sea keeping capabilities made them versatile. For Coast Guard service several changes were
made: a balloon shelter was added aft, spaces were converted for housing oceanographic equipment and a hydrographic and oceanographic winch were added. The
Casco-class cutters were using in this role until the late
1960s and early 1970s. Some WAVPs saw service in the Vietnam War (with some being transferred to the South Vietnamese Navy), and one survived as a cutter until 1988.

Carl Musselman’s interest in Barnegat-class AVPs stems from his father‘s service aboard the USS Duxbury Bay (AVP-38) while performing its duties as flagship for Commander Middle East Forces in 1952 and 1953.
While conducting researching to build a model of “The Dux” for his father using the
Iron Shipwrights USS Mackinac kit, his interest in this class of ships in all of their different configurations and fits grew. He modeled
different ships converting the
Mackinac kit and eventually Carl decided to make his conversion parts available for sale to modelers as packages with and without a modified hull under the Back-Aft Models label, with the
blessing and cooperation of
Iron Shipwrights. The USCG 311' Cutter 1960s PLUS 1/350 Conversion Set is one example.
The PLUS set comes with a water-lined and modified hull based on an Iron Shipwright’s Mackinac, the conversion parts in resin and a CD-ROM with detailed official plans for the USCGC Bering Strait. The components
of this conversion set are based on these plans. The hull, conversion parts and the plans on CD are all sold individually but when purchased as a set you will save $41, so this is a bargain by comparison.

The hull has been modified with the addition of deck and bulkhead features, hull strakes, butt straps, and overboard discharge ports. Also cast into the Coast Guard cutter hull are the 5” gun turret foundation ring and the
towing rail. The latter addition is a real time saver as it eliminates the need to scratch-build your own if you didn’t buy this complete package. Overall the hull casting is well done, with the usual clean-up required. Extra bits
of resin and casting film will need to be removed, especially with the towing rail. Also as I like to model ships in a seascape, having a water-lined hull is a big plus for me.
The 01 deck is the next largest part. What stands out with this part is the aft section with the two deck extensions that was distinctive feature. The 01 level has a large deck housing, several storage lockers and mushroom vents.
The edges of the deck need to be sanded smooth. First set of smaller parts include the bridge or 02 deck, the 03 deck, funnel, two styles of torpedo splinter shields, gun director platforms, sponson support arches, towing bitt
and capstan and a  5” gun turret foundation ring. The latter part is redundant as this has already been cast into the hull’s deck. This may have been included accidentally but I will put it into my spares box for possible use in
another project. These parts are also cast well and will need clean-up to remove some resin flash and film. The opening for the ladder to the bridge deck needs to be opened up as well as the openings in the torpedo splinter
shields. The two sets of these shields differ in terms of the width the openings – narrow or wide. Which ones to use will depend on which ship you wish to model and you will have to rely on photos to determine this.
The last set of smaller parts includes the aft 02 deck level housings, the balloon hangar, boat davits, ventilation blowers and a catwalk. Again the parts are well done and require the usual clean up.

Six pages of assembly instructions illustrated with annotated photos are provided to give you guidance on where the conversion set parts go. These instructions do not cover every detail on building the Coast Guard cutter
version but they are supplemented with the plans set on the CD-ROM. The CD has the complete set of plans available in the Booklet of General Plans and will help you to finish the model and add as much detail as you care to
add.
The Back-Aft Models USCG 311' Cutter 1960s PLUS 1/350 Conversion Set is not a complete model kit. You will need to obtain other resin or plastic parts, such as the 5” gun turret and ship boats, from other sources. The
same goes with photo-etch and decals. What this set does is provide you with the basis to build a model of the 311’ cutter as she appeared in the 1960s and taking care of all the modifications made to these ships. This will
save you a lot of time and effort, especially if your scratch-building skills are not that sharp. You can purchase this set directly from Back-Aft Models at http://shop.back-aft.com/
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